Making Phone Calls During Air Force Basic Training

Air Force Recruits Must Abide by Strict Phone Call Rules in Basic

Female soldier talking on smartphone

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Air Force recruits get a chance to call home at least once during basic training, and depending on how you and the rest of your cohort (known as a "flight") perform, you may get additional call permissions as well. But there are a few things you should keep in mind about these calls.

Can I Keep My Phone in Air Force Basic?

The first reality you will have to accept is that Air Force basic training cell phone policy dictates that there are no cell phones allowed during basic training. When you enter basic training, you give up just about every possession you have and you will be monitored 24 hours per day, seven days per week. As a result, new recruits are not allowed to have cell phones, and would not have time to use them anyway.

First Phone Call

The first call home is the only mandatory phone call that training instructors (TI) are required to let recruits make. It most likely will happen on the first Saturday or Sunday afternoon after your arrival, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule—it's basically up to the TI. This will be a very short phone call of a few minutes, which is enough time to pass on your mailing information.

Prepare your family or other loved ones in advance about this phone call, as you may not sound "well." This particular stage of training is stressful, both physically and psychologically, and your family members may pick up on this during the call. No matter how uneasy you might be feeling, it's best to remain calm when talking to your family. 

You won't really have time to tell them that you're OK or tell them what your first few days were like. You'll have time to spit out your mailing address, then you have to give the phone to the next recruit in line. Make sure you and your family are prepared for the experience.

Patio Breaks

After the first mandatory phone call, how many times you can call home in basic training depends on your flight's performance. The phones are located on the break patio of each dormitory. You earn patio breaks as a flight by keeping your TI happy. If your flight is doing well, your TI will give you more patio breaks. If your flight is not doing well, the TI may withhold patio breaks. TIs are given a lot of latitude in this area. 

Other than the first phone call, you will only be allowed to call home during authorized patio breaks. And needless to say, you won't have access to cell phones during most of boot camp.

Prepaid Phone Cards

You may get lucky and your TI will give your flight a patio break when nobody else has one, or you may get to the patio and find out that every other TI in the building decided to give their flights a patio break at the same time. How long you will be able to chat on the phone depends on how long your patio break is, and how many other folks are waiting to use the phone.

Lots of other anxious folks are going to be waiting in line to use the pay phones at the same time as you. Each dormitory building has only one patio, and several flights are housed in each building. Remember, these are pay phones, so bringing a prepaid phone card with you to basic training can speed things up. That way, you won't have to go through the operator to arrange for a collect call.